Wednesday, June 20, 2012
40 greatest female athletes: Jackie Joyner-Kersee
Jackie Joyner-Kersee showed the country a new kind of greatness: the all-around kind.
ESPN is marking the 40th anniversary of Title IX by unveiling the top 40 female athletes of the past 40 years.
As a kid, Jackie Joyner-Kersee was fast. And she could jump. In high school at Lincoln (East St. Louis, Ill.), she was a state champion in both basketball and track.
And from there, the No. 3 woman in ESPN's countdown became a legend.
By the time she retired, Joyner-Kersee was a three-time Olympic gold medalist, having won the heptathlon and long jump in 1988 and the heptathlon again in 1992. She also took silver in the inaugural heptathlon in 1984 and bronze in the long jump in 1992 and 1996. She repeatedly set world records in the heptathlon. In fact, Joyner-Kersee holds the top six scores in heptathlon history.
"She didn't have any competition except herself," says her brother, Al Joyner, who won Olympic gold in the triple jump at the L.A. Games in 1984. "She kept setting records, making it look easy."